Andy Barr to spread organic manures for first time

Some of my winter barley on sand hit a record low yield, while a block of oilseed rape on normally drought-prone soil managed its best for years.

First impressions are that wheat yields on lighter land are around 2007 levels. We may tackle better land tomorrow, depending on which weather forecast you believe. My local co-operative store, Weald Granary, were reporting a lower-than-normal start point for hagbergs and it kept raining so I combined some of a sprouting-prone variety at 19.9 % moisture – hopefully, not another of my daft mistakes.

For the first time this year we will just go over the rape stubbles with a Techmagri rake before drilling. To try and square this with my intention to add organic manures, I have tried green waste compost followed by raking as the only cultivation. I wouldn’t go as far as the driver loading the spreaders and say “it smelt lovely”, but I think it works. Mind you, he was off to handle something rather more unpleasant the next day – “The smell sticks a bit, but at least I get a place at the bar on the weekends,” he said, admirably looking on the bright side.

Having heard a number of local planning discussions recently, from polytunnels to renewable energy projects to mineral extraction, it seems that a portion of society believes that the countryside is solely there to provide them with a beautiful view. Maybe rocketing food prices, blackouts and a lack of housing would bring them around, but perhaps we should try and get the word out before that. Being in the most densely populated country in Europe may not always make for quiet enjoyment of farming, but it should provide other opportunities if we can keep most people happy; communication could be the key.

Andy Barr (EwenMcEwen) is on Twitter



arable farmer focus: Andy Barr

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